color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: July 2005

Saturday, July 30, 2005

For Big Pharoah

Kudos to Big Pharoah who tried with other young Egyptians to organize an anti-terrorism rally and candlelight vigil in Egypt -- and almost got it done but, alas, the government revoked the permit at the last minute... Keep trying, BP!!
Read more at the Big Pharoah's blog
I have followed this blog for more than a year. BP's blog has been a real eye-opener... and it has done my soul good to read the words of a moderate in the Middle East... Well written, interesting, often wry, humorous... But it makes me SO GLAD that I live in the USofA!!


I am certain that today there was no other sound in the world that could make me smile... I turned off the vacuum -- was that a "moo"? and as I approach the pc, up pops the screen, with "Hey, ma!" Are there two more glorious words in the whole world today??? I didn't realize just how wound out I was until tears sprang to my eyes as I sat to type...

July 30, 2005

SoldierSon: hey ma!
SoldiersMom: hey kid! long time no hear!!
SoldierSon: yeah been real busy
SoldierSon: I need ciggerettessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss
SoldiersMom: I sent 2 boxes with cigs in them... how many have you gotten?
SoldierSon: 4 total so far
SoldiersMom: how many had cigs in them?
SoldierSon: one box had cigs
SoldiersMom: ok, there is a second already posted 10 days ago -- so any time now...
SoldierSon: kk
SoldierSon: write everyone that I miss them, and did u call goo about my camera
SoldiersMom: yeah.. I'll call again... there's a total of 13+/- boxes to you already... and some to V... some to R and M
SoldierSon: dang
SoldiersMom: and aunt k sent boxes... and aunt L was having a blast shopping for you (at least 3 or 4 boxes coming from her...)
SoldiersMom: and some army wives and moms that I have become friends with also sent food and stuff
SoldierSon: kool… bless them
SoldiersMom: and cousin k (uncle r's daughter) has organized HER WHOLE CHURCH to send you guys boxes which should start by mid-august!
SoldierSon: dang! dang! dang! we can use all we get...
SoldiersMom: well, we guess you've been OUT? haven't heard from you in a week... was worried... saw lots of crap happening W and NW of you...
SoldierSon: been busyyy really busyyy good and bad busy
SoldierSon: yeah and a lot mo sh*t happening where we are
SoldiersMom: ok... just glad you're ok... so does this mean you get another CIB LOL?
SoldierSon: no... just one, and I gtg
SoldiersMom: I'll send cigs again this week... I also sent a box of cake, cookies, muffins, etc. (they're vacuum packed)
SoldiersMom: LOVE YOU!!
SoldiersMom: stay safe
SoldierSon: I gtg lov u tons ma mmmwahs
SoldierSon signed off at 10:58:17 AM.

and while I'm having this IM, another screen pops up and it's one of my other Guys...

Vsoldier: hiya mom
SoldiersMom: hey!!! so glad to finally hear from you!!
Vsoldier: hey mom how you doing
SoldiersMom: ok... have you guys been OUT?
Vsoldier: yea few times ... your boy's been out a lot... way more then me... gone most the week
SoldiersMom: well, we haven't seen any of you online and were worried...
Vsoldier: oh mom btw tell Catherine (from PA) thanks for that package … so kool
SoldiersMom: her son Dan is there... was a HUMMVV driver -- he gets to the Box this month and they decide they're going to make him a tank driver! LOL
Vsoldier: good times... he's safer... and we love them tanks!
SoldiersMom: you'll also be seeing stuff from mississippi and louisiana... some army wives and moms that boys/guys don't need anything at the moment said if you need, they send... so LOTS of stuff coming your way... aunt k sent, too...
Vsoldier: so awesome nice we are still thought of... love it... I gtg mom take care mwahs and hugs love ya
SoldiersMom: be safe love you V
Vsoldier signed off at 10:56:17 AM.
I will sleep well tonight... well, as well as you can sleep when someone you love is in harm's way... Thank you all for the wonderful messages of support and encouragement... You are the BEST!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Where Are You From?

I have a site meter and love to look at the various categories -- whether people have been referred from another site, the language of people accessing the site (don't worry -- it doesn't tell me who you are or your web address or things like that...)
While I did not have the site meter from the start, I am approaching 15,000 visitors (probably some time today), so I thought it would be interesting and fun to ask visitors to this site -- "Where ya'll from?" Just a city, state, province, country would be interesting... and perhaps a blurb about how you found this site... Post in the comments -- no registration required...
And let me say thank you for visiting and I'm so glad you came by!
(and no, no news from the Guys yet...)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Over There"

A reminder that the premier of this fx network show is tonight... 10:00PM et/pt... (and I note at that it will also be shown at 11:00PM and a few more times this week...
When I first read about this show, I had no intention of watching it -- a little too close to home for me... But my son saw the promos for it while he was home on leave and when I asked whether he wanted me to record the shows for him he said, "Hell yeah!" He said the guys are interested in seeing them... to see how accurate the info is and to laugh at the stuff that isn't... And of course they want to know why the guy training the actors to be Army soldiers -- is a Marine? (That's what they'd heard...)
So I'll be watching... I'll be interested in some of the takes on this in the next few days...
My friend Melinda (an Army wife) said: " My husband & I watched it. At twenty minutes past the hour, I looked at him and said, "well, now that they have run through every possible stereotype, what will they do for the next 40 minutes?" My husband spent most of his time pointing out inaccuracies or things that were too 'Hollywood'". And another Army wife said, "My husband watched this, thought it was cheesy, and unrealistic. He thought that was ok, because anything "too real" might not be great to watch."
So, Mel, they filled the other 40 minutes with gore and horror...

and yup... appeared to have covered all the bases:

white Columbia grad (but called "Dim" 'cause he's stupid enough to be in the Army anyway?),

poor white southern kid that needs money for college (but he loves the Army),

ghetto kid,

over the edge (Sgt. Screamer) NCO,

by the book (idiot) NCO,

paternal captain,

tough girl,

young mother,


covered everyone? what?? the Army is apparently composed of just 18-22 yr olds? no career, dedicated soldier from middle class America that actually felt a duty to serve? ok, maybe in episode 2... that's when I guess we'll also get to meet that psycho "nothing happens in my town unless I say it happens" Sgt. in #2 as shown in the previews? I can't wait (sigh). But I'm certainly glad they dumped on al-Jazeera...
I want to note here that the racial/age stereotype is a little skewed in the show... In my son's original platoon, the newest Sgt. was a white 23 year old, the Staff Sgt. and 1st Sgt. are 20 yr.+ veterans who are both African Americans, while most of the guys in his platoon are white 18-22 year olds (none are from the same state), 3 others are white 25-30 year olds, 1 is Hispanic (about 24) and 1 is black (late 20's). In his current platoon, his Sgt. is Hispanic and has 16 years of service... I'm not certain whether it reflects the entire Army, but it appeared to be an accurate reflection of his battalion...

I can't say whether the battlefield depictions are accurate, I'll leave that for the vets to say... I'll give it another episode or two. I'm really more interested in the character development and how they portray our soldiers and the situations of which we are already aware -- I picked up the references to Abu Ghraib... and the shooting from the mosque... and the needing permission to return fire which may have been less than accurate, but also the references to incident reports and the paperwork when gunfire is exchanged...
My only other comment is that the theme song SUCKED. terrible. mothers are crying? fathers are sighing? what the hell is that? the ABCs of rhymin' simon? they should sh*tcan it and find something better. I think they were going for the "Suicide is Painless" (M.A.S.H.) feel but missed entirely. the words are imbecilic and the music unmemorable. awful.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tag! You're It!

Ok, Cathy over at Updates on My Soldier ( tagged me with, "What's on your nightstand (she got tagged by Andi over at Andi's World (
So, what's on my nighstand? A full bottle of water, a mostly empty bottle of water, a telephone, a lamp, a $1 bill, a pair of reading glasses (they're the dog's LOL), a clock radio, and a book on Arizona plants and weeds. And dust.
So I tag Stacy over at Keep My Soldier Safe (
Sean over at DocInTheBox ( though he might be too busy 'cause he's getting married in a few days (eek!)
Army Wife over at ArmyWifeToddlerMom ( and be sure to check out her BLOGGERS FOR BOOKS -- great idea!!!
ok, having mercy on all others, that's my three "Tag! You're IT!"
Update: I left out my good friend Stoic Mom over at Uncle Sam Ate My Baby ( so I'm tagging her now... What's on your nightstand?
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Christmas in July

In December 1966, on the deck of an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam, sat a helicopter with its crew of five on "stand by". These stand-by assignments were really "sit stills" -- you had to be in the chopper and ready to fly a CAP (combat air patrol) at a moment's notice and many times it was eight hours of sitting and waiting.

The pilot of the helicopter was a 24-year old lieutenant fresh from the farm fields of Illinois via flight school at Pensacola. His crewmates, some younger but none much older, sat and stared out at the pitch black trying to make out the shape of the fueler that had pulled alongside earlier in the day but which melted into the blackness of the ocean at night. Occasionally one of the crew would flip on their red-lensed flashlights to check the time. There was little radio traffic through the headsets and all conversations were conducted at a whisper given the EMCOM (emergency communications only) status -- the wind rushing by the open side panel of the chopper the most persistent sound.

About midnight, a lone sailor approached and slid an armful of packages and letters across the floor. "Mail call," he whispered, turned and departed. Under the red glow of a flashlight, the parcels were divvied up to their recipients, the largest of the parcels passing to the pilot.

The large box revealed a tin of homemade fudge from the local church, cookies from his mother's closest friend, and a smaller gift-wrapped box. Inside the Marshall Field & Co. box from his parents was a small tabletop sized Christmas tree about 15 inches high -- the stiff artificial fir adorned with small, painted wooden ornaments, shiny gold ornaments, and green and red ribbon bows. The pilot set the tree on the floor next to his seat and they all admired the quaint little tree under the glow of the red light until a slight knock elicited a few notes from an undetected music box within. Twisting the base, the tree began to play "Oh, Christmas Tree." Sitting alone in the dark, 10 months into a 14 month tour, away from home at Christmas for the first time for some, they sat in the dark and listened to that tree turn for the next few hours, eating fudge and cookies, trying hard not to let each other hear their sniffles.

That Christmas tree traveled with my Dear Husband for the more than two decades of his Navy service and was the only Christmas decoration in many an aircraft carrier's bunkroom over the years. To this day, almost 40 years later, it occupies a place of honor in our home each Christmas. Every Christmas Eve, the story of how the tree came to be is told -- our now-grown children still insisting that he tell the story even when we protest that "everyone knows the story!" It has become a tradition in our home and one in which our children willingly participate. The first time DH's parents heard the story was the last Christmas Eve his sweet father celebrated and they told the story of how they had traveled to Chicago from their small farm community to buy "something nice" for their oldest son -- never imagining the impact such a small gesture would have on generations to come.

When our oldest son joined the Navy, his first duty station was overseas. We decided that the tradition of receiving a musical Christmas tree for the first Christmas overseas in service to our country needed to be continued. We spent many an afternoon all through that October and November nearly 9 years ago scouring malls and shops for just the right tree. In my best calligraphy, we marked the bottom in jeweler's gold with his name and the year, just as I had done to the bottom of my husband's tree.

This past Christmas Eve, just weeks before our youngest son deployed to Iraq, the story of the little Christmas tree was told and as the story concluded our soldier exclaimed, "You know that means I get my tree next year!" I nodded in silence and left his Dad to respond, "You bet!"

So here we are in July, 100 degrees outside -- most of the nation gripped in record heat -- already searching the web and catalogs and year-round Christmas stores for just the right tree to send. We don't know what it looks like yet, but we'll know when we see it!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Way to a Soldier's Heart

The late Orson Wells, the actor and director, allegedly said, "Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch." I believe he may have been quoting a soldier.

I noticed recently on soldiers' blogs that there is a lot of mention of food... what they ate, what they were serving in the chow halls, what the Iraqis eat, what kind of food is sent from home, what's the first food they'll eat when they get home... So it was not all that surprising when some of the first words out of our son's mouth in an early morning phone call revolved around food -- or at least the lack of edible food.
They have started to receive the boxes we shipped (we calculate it took 8 or 9 days for our first boxes to get there) and they are most grateful for the cigs, soaps and the food, but please send more food. He says that the food that the Army provides is not cooked onsite at their camp, but is trucked in twice daily. His exact words? "The food just sucks, Ma -- most of the time we can't even tell what we're eating and a lot of the time it's just inedible."
So his Dad says, "Well, it's Army food" to which the son replies, "Dad, I've been eating Army food for two years and Army food in the Sandbox for six months -- and whatever this is, it ain't Army food!" He says they are hungry most of the time and that food is a precious commodity at the camp. He reminds me that he and the guys will usually eat anything that resembles food, but even they can't eat the slop that's served. So we tell him we'll head to the discount shopping warehouse and buy all types of prepared canned food and send it... spaghettios, spaghetti, ravioli, soups, stews, chili -- whatever we can find. He says that the chow hall itself has two large mortar holes in the roof and one in the side...
His voice sounds hoarse and I ask if he has a cold, and he says, "No... sand and dust. We all sound like frogs here."
He asks his Dad if he can find some sort of a clip-on fan that he can attach to his bunk or that can be rigged to hang on the wall above his upper bunk... they have air conditioning, but it's not particularly effective in the extreme heat and with 10 guys in a room... and please send a power strip and extension cord... and can we send some PSP (PlayStation Portable) movies and games... and since he decided to leave his laptop stateside after R&R, can we get him an inexpensive portable DVD player (put it on his credit card) since only one of the 10 guys in his room has a PC and it's too old and too slow for them to watch movies? and they got a water delivery this week and they had their first real showers in weeks... but no hot water... just cold... but it was better than bottled water showers.
We ask how the new camp is and he says (besides that it sucks) that it's much busier than the old camp and that "something happens every day -- usually a few times a day." We ask if he is outside the wire a lot and he says at least 6 out of 7 days a week... and they are mortared inside the camp every day... and he no sooner says that than a large explosion is heard in the background... something exploding outside the camp, he says. He tells me first sergeant C. ran over an IED yesterday but says the IED was buried deep and basically just made a big hole that the HUMMVV fell into and C. and all aboard were ok... tells me that 30 vehicles ran over the IED before C.'s truck did...
He asks me to have his best friend send his camera which he also left after R&R because there is a lot to photograph in his new AO. He tells me that they are stopping lots of terrorists... I ask if they're capturing them... he says no, but they're getting rid of lots of them... that he's learned to drag the bodies by the feet... I say, I sure wish he didn't have to see all that at 20... and he tells me he's ok because he knows they're the bad guys and he know where this is in his head and his life -- something that must be done in order for him and other good people there and everywhere to live their lives... he mentions that they have been seeing the news on London and Egypt and it just makes them more determined...
He says he has formulated the outline of a "game plan" for when he gets out of the service and we talk his finances for a few minutes and he asks us to send some college catalogs... He talks about the various federal, state and local agencies he might join after college... We talk about his future which is nice. We talk about family news -- a cousin that is pregnant, an aunt/uncle/cousins moving this week, our trip to a new casino, movies we've seen... We talk about V., R., M. and K. and how they received their first boxes, how grateful they are, they promise to write, and how they're doing... and I say that other Army moms and Army wives are sending things, too and he says that is so 'kewl"... and he tells me that M.'s son took his first steps and said "Da-Da" on the phone this week but how his will-be ex-wife is still giving him all kinds of grief, but he's doing ok... and our son wants to call his girl and he's gotta go...
and I want to stay on the phone for hours just talking and asking him things, but all too soon it's "We love you, son! Stay safe!!" and his Dad's "Luv ya, man" brings a chuckle and the expected "Love you too, mannnnn" and the two laugh... "Love you too, ma. Thanks for everything... we really appreciate it and we really need it... I'll be careful, ma, don't worry." "Well call us again soon. We love to hear your voice." "I will. Love you. Bye."
DH and I talk about the things our son has said... the colleges... the after-Army employment... the food situation... and DH has gone to the garage and found four extension cords and a new clip-on work lamp that maybe the soldier can use... and he's started a list of things he wants to pick up at the store for "our Guys"... and we joke that the things we send soldiers should be tax deductible or free to mail 'cause this is going to be an expensive year if we have to feed five guys in Iraq... we've already spent a small fortune buying these necessities and the mailing costs in just two weeks... DH jokingly suggests that we might have to "un-retire" to support a whole new family... but right now, we're off on our errands and I mumble about hoping I have enough flat rate boxes...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 22, 2005

I Love His Smile

When he got his Airborne wings...
(the coldest & wettest day in GA in 38 years!)

At the airport at the end of R&R July 2005

One of his favorite things... talking on the cell

I love to see my kids smile and I absolutely love to hear them laugh!! I can remember the first time I heard each of them laugh -- that laugh that seems to just bubble up out of them and explode into the air... the kind that you just can't help but laugh along... and the smile that makes you smile, too (even when you don't want to!) Oh, they all have those "other" smiles -- the "ok, so how do I get out of this one?" or the "I know what I'm getting for Christmas" smile and the "I think I might just get away with this" smile... and the "oh, oh... she knows" grin as well... But I love the "I am so happy" and the "I am so proud" smiles more than any other. These pics capture some of my most favorite smiles of my soldier, my son. They do make me smile, but at the same time they make me want to cry... I know that will make sense to lots of moms and wives and girlfriends with guys in the Sandbox or that had them there or that will be sending them there...

When I woke this morning, I was disappointed that I hadn't heard when an IM had come in from my son some time overnight with a list of things he and the guys needed... which closed with

keep sending them boxes, love ya maaa ur the best. really. the best. mwwaahs

it made me smile (which led to this post), but at the end of the message was the time stamp

signed off at 3:25:27 AM.

no big wonder that I didn't hear the "moooo"... I'm pretty much unconscious at that hour!

So, son, if you're reading this -- there's necessities and goodies on the way... packaged with love... lots of love... and smiles.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Just Stuff...

Civilized people who worship a God of goodness and healing could not even contemplate such things... BASTARDS
Two weeks to the day when terrorist attacks in London killed a total of 56 people, explosions struck three Underground stations and a bus Thursday afternoon... Any news site has more...
So if there are still people who believe we should try and "understand" these reprobates, get a grip... This is their mission -- to exterminate you and your way of life. No democracy. No free market. Simply stated: the end of life as you know it. That's it. No higher or altruistic goal.
A 51 yr old mother... volunteered for OIF duty... that's Candy Martin. Here's her blog

What is most interesting, however, is that Candy's husband was 17 year career Army... and her son (Tom Martin) just graduated West Point! He went Green (enlisted) to Grey (USMA Cadet) to Gold (officer!) Here's his blog
I keep telling people that they should let us moms go over there and we'd cook, clean and keep those guys in line LOL... and you know they'd never let nothin' happen to their mommas!


I ordered some new quick dry undershirts for my son last week and they were shipped within 2 days... But I get the confirmation email from the company and UPS and they tell me they are scheduled for delivery (here) next Thursday... 12 days? I get mail to my soldier in 12-14 days 1/2 way across the world... Where are these shirts coming from? Iraq? I haven't heard from the boot company when the new desert boots will arrive although they did confirm they are "processing" the order... nor have I heard when the rank insignias and poncho liner will get here but they, too, are "processing" the order. I usually give these places a few days to process the order, but then I'm all over them if I haven't been told the stuff has shipped (I'd hate to think that any of these places that deal in military goods for soldiers were taking advantage of them, huh?)


I'm very excited that the shuttle Discovery is back on a schedule for launch on July 26 (Go figger -- NASA can fix the shuttle and put it in orbit in a shorter period of time than it takes to get the t-shirts!)!


Going to get a haircut today-- (I keep it pretty short), then DH & I are going to see "Fantastic Four" and dinner at our favorite sports bar... A "Pamper US" kind of day...


Got an interesting mathematics lesson at You Must Be Kidding ( on the new study out by Iraqi Body Count...


Have you been in the stores recently? They have the friggin' back to school stuff out! (and have for a few weeks)! And Fall (winter) clothing! What is that about? I guess it's not so early here since kids go back to school in AZ in August and the colleges start in August as well... but it sure feels strange since our kids always went back to school the Wednesday after Labor Day in NY (but they went to school until the end of June!) And every September I still feel like I should be getting ready myself to go back to school...


I must admit that our spring into summer was so busy -- we'd gotten into a routine of shopping and shipping packages to the Guys in Iraq, helping family move, graduation, wedding, visiting family and then R&R... But there was a pattern to it and goals/targets. Now I find it's taking me some time to get back into a rhythm since our son left... I've decided to start painting the rooms in the house... and pull out the carpet in a powder room and replace it with stone or slate tiles. I like to undertake these projects myself... Of course, DH has input (color) and he sincerely wants to help (he has his own projects), but I love putting on some music and getting lost in the work and my thoughts. And there's something about seeing the results of hard work at the end of the day... and the feeling that you accomplished something and are still moving forward... I have almost a year to fill before the deployment ends. As someone noted in the comments the other day, back to the good news/bad news/no news roller coaster ride associated with deployments...


Matthew 7:15-23, we find the guideline for determining false prophets:
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Met a Fellow Milblogger

I figure that eventually I will get to meet some of the other bloggers that I read and that read my blog… Many are already kindred sisters & brothers (and some, daughters!) But today, I met a wonderful young milblogger, Chris Missick.

More than a year ago, one of the first milblogs I read was A Line in the Sand ( by Sgt. Chris Missick, a young Army Reservist from California deployed to Iraq in support of OIF II. Chris wrote intelligent and thought-provoking pieces as well as reported on the drudgery of the day-to-day life of a soldier in the Sandbox. He wasn’t in an infantry unit, but it was among my first glimpses of the life of a deployed soldier.

Over the year, he and I visited each other’s blogs and we communicated by email. When he redeployed early this year, we exchanged occasional emails as he acclimated to life back in the U.S.

Well, Chris – accompanied by two of his friends, Kyle and Ryan -- recently embarked on a cross-country trip to connect with supporters he had met through his blog but now wanted to meet personally. They kicked off the project in Carson City, NV the other evening at a reception attended by many people, including the Governor of Nevada. Describing the project on WEB OF SUPPORT.COM: The Blog (, he writes:

“With the advent of blogging technologies, soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have not just transformed the way we reflect on our nations 25 million veterans, they have also changed the way Americans are able to follow the lives of our service members and forge personal relationship with them in combat zones. As an Army Reservist and soldier blogger who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, I can attest to the impact of battlefield blogs. My blog garnered attention from hundreds of thousands of visitors as well as mass media outlets like USA Today and CNN.

Returning home in March of 2005, I have set my heart on beginning an extensive road-trip through our country to personally thank the individuals I formed the deepest relationships with through the blog. The supporters I have selected offer a broad regional and demographic sample, and offer unique insight and stories that will prove to be inspiring and insightful. In a drastically new approach to a soldier’s memoir, Web of Support: How A Soldier’s Blog Connected Him With American Patriots….”

So Chris and the Web of Support passed through our town today and DH and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon chatting, exchanging stories, and generally exploring various topics related to the War, the War on Terrorism, terrorism, American attitudes, history of the Middle East, left politics, right politics, family... The visit was much too short and we hope Chris, Ryan (who served with Chris in Iraq) and Kyle will take us up on our invitation to pass this way on their return trip. Be sure to visit Chris's site for a travelogue and pictures of this odyssey...

Have a safe and enlightening journey, gentlemen!!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

It's Worse Than He Imagined

So I got to IM with our soldier this morning (night his time). He arrived at his camp earlier today and says it's worse than even the pictures the guys painted in their emails (sigh). No mail was waiting, but he is anxious for our packages to arrive. He brought his buds cigarettes and he said he's almost never seen them with bigger smiles... There are two hot meals a day (one in the morning and one in the evening) but if you're out on a mission or you miss it for some other reason, it's MREs. They are sleeping in buildings dormitory style. That was all there was time for... except he missed us and he sends his love to all.
And so it goes...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Still Waiting....

Still no word from our son or any of the Guys... and a quick check of the telephone accounts reveals no activity, so I assume our son has left Kuwait.... no panic, just wish we'd hear... something. But I can live with the "no news is good news" thing as well...

DH and I saw three movies this weekend... I can't remember when we last saw three movies in a YEAR -- let alone a weekend. One outing was planned, one was spur of the moment, and the third was friends who called to see if we wanted to join them for dinner and a movie...
First we saw "Sahara" which we had wanted to see when it first came out but (as usual) had not. I don't care what the reviewers said -- I thought it was pure fun and fantasy -- plus I got this thing for former Navy pilots... (wink)(wink). And Matthew McConaughey really worked hard to get that body in shape... mmm-mmm-mmm. And William H. Macy was again a delight to watch... and Steve Zahn had just the right mix of zaniness and swagger as McC's sidekick. If you haven't seen it and it's no longer in a theater near you, I recommend you rent it -- it's a hoot!
Next, we saw "War of the Worlds". Very intense movie. The special effects were very good (the aliens and their ships were truly terrifying) but some of the effects were a little gruesome for my tastes. And all the comparisons to 9/11 are certainly fair (for one who was there) and for my money a rapt analogy of the beasts (terrorists) who would wipe out our way of life just because... and that they may indeed be planted among us. It was difficult watching some of the Army battle scenes (but they're still the heroes saving the world) and the scenes between Tom Cruise's character Ray and his son about "needing to be there" and to "see this" and to let him go were also a little difficult to watch because I identified exactly with Ray's emotions as a parent.
Lastly, we saw "Batman Begins". Very well told story. Entertaining. I agree with those that said it was the best Batman movie to date. Wasn't sure what to expect since some of the previous Batman movies were so camp. Just the right mix of drama, action and romance (almost none, actually). DH and I both enjoyed it.
Now as for one of my pet peeves, although War of the World's is rated PG-13 (I believe this film was violent enough to have been rated "R") I was really quite shocked by the number of people who had brought young (10 or under) children to this flick -- and of course we had to listen to the 300 questions and comments and screams from the 8 year old behind us until 30 minutes into the film our companions (after the obligatory hard stares failed) asked the parents if they could remind him to speak in a whisper (they did, he did...) But this film is definitely not appropriate for young children.
And in the packed Batman theater as well... there was a man and woman who brought their 3 or 4 year old daughter and an infant in a carrier... Both children began to wail within the first few minutes of the movie. We sat many rows in front of them but could hear the father trying to calm the little girl and the mother worked feverishly to stop the baby from crying to no avail. But did they leave or take the children to the lobby? Nope. The theater manager had to come and ask them to do so. Some people just have no sense. If you can't get a sitter, please find some other age-appropriate activities to do with your children and watch the movie when it comes out on video in a few months.
And before I get angry responses from some out there, I do empathize with young parents -- Been there. Done that. No, it's not easy... but your children screaming or acting inappropriately in the movies is unfair for all the rest of the audience who also paid $15 to come escape to a movie. It's just common courtesy and good manners.
This week I want to see "Fantastic Four" which was one of my all time favorite comic books when I was growing up! And I saw Michael Chiklis interviewed recently and thought he was a riot as he talked about the costumes and the trials and tribulations of playing the part of Ben Grimm (the Thing)... and I hope they made Johnny Storm as big a smart aleck in the movie as I remember from the comics...
So THIS is what it's like to be retired!!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Silence is Maddening

After having "at will" access to our son for the past few weeks while he was home on leave, and having had a number of calls and instant messages over the past week since his departure, the silence of yesterday and today is maddening. I had an IM from him very late Friday night (early Saturday for him) and he said it looked like he would not be heading back to his camp for a few days... that although there were 8 other soldiers waiting in Kuwait for transport to the AO, they were waiting for a few more to arrive before they departed. They had already discovered that their weapons had been retrieved and already knew that they were heading directly back to the new camp.
But no call or IM yesterday, and none so far today... and I glumly realize that we're back to the waiting game. Of course, I also haven't heard from any of "my Guys" already at the camp in Iraq since Friday, either... so I'm worrying on two fronts. I will say that the joy that can be communicated in IMs is actually pretty amazing... when I told V. that we had sent many boxes of things to him and R. and M. I could read the joy... He said (and I quote)
soldier's mom: hi v! dad and I sent boxes yesterday full of stuff to you, R*** & M*** (and [son], of course)... cigs, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, deodorant, razor blades, etc., etc.... and will send more .... sure sorry you guys have such a crappy camp but we'll try and make it a little better
soldier: mom you are so AWESOME!!!!

soldier's mom: well, love is a pretty powerful motivator...:-D
and I sent an urgent email to all of the family and [son]'s friends telling them to get their butts in gear and send more ... so who knows what you'll see?:-D

and if that's not enough, I'm sure there are a few bloggers on the internet that would put the word out there so that you all have whatever you need :-D

soldier: mom me and the guys (including [son]) owe you so f***ing big (sorry ma)

soldier's mom: you are paying me right now... just doing what you do and staying safe...
And what I hate hearing (but would rather hear something than nothing)
soldier: well trying to stay safe

soldier's mom: is it bad? [so, ok, I can't help myself... I have to ask]

soldier: nah. not usually.
Great. Not usually. And keep in mind "bad" is a relative term -- it never will have the same definition for a mom as for a soldier (sigh).
So, I'll keep busy... I'll listen for the "moooo" or the "ringggggggg" that tells me one or more of my sons is online... and I'll pray for the ring of the phone any time night or day... and I'll blog some of my frustrationss away... but I'll never get used to the silence.
Copyright 2005 All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Care Packages

I know a lot of people that read my blog either have family or friends in the military or have an interest in them and/or have adopted soldiers serving overseas... So I offer this list from a private chat group for families of 3ID soldiers. Some will evoke smiles and others are just plain fun and bound to bring a smile to your soldier.

If you really do SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, here are some places you might want to visit to lend a hand:

(for the days when you can't think of what to ship)

"Surviving the Sandstorms"- Eye wash; Nasal spray; Chap stick; Bandana; goggles/sun glasses; etc

"Laundry Load"- Laundry soap ('sample size' or Tide tablets kind) to pack in with their case there are no washers/dryers; Fabric softener sheets; clean socks and undershirts; Febreeze or All refresher fabric sprays

"Lotta Java"- Tea; Cocoa; Coffee singles; creamer; sugar; International Coffee tins; cookies for dunking in coffee

"Thanks a Million!!"- Things that may "seem" expensive. Ex: Grey Poupon; electronic game of "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" - small amount of cash; wrap items in green tissue paper.

"Hang in There!"- Stuffed animal monkey; Banana bread; Banana chips; Banana pudding (the kind that doesn't have to be refrigerated); Monkey's in a Barrel game; card with a monkey on it.

"A Day at the Beach!"- sunscreen; beach towel; beach snacks; flip flop sandals (shower shoes); aloe vera gel;

"Medicine Cabinet"- aspirin; band-aids; Neosporin cream; A&D ointment; cold medicine; alka seltzer; Rolaids; etc.

"Staying Healthy"- nutrition/health bars (ex: Power bar; Tigers Milk; Myoplex); vitamins; Nutri-grain bars; Gatorade or other sports drink (to stay hydrated);

"MRE/Mess Hall Survival Kit"- restaurant size condiment packs of: BBQsauce, mustard, ketchup, mayo, relish, salt. Pepper, taco sauce, ranch, cheese in a can dip, etc

"Correspondence Carton"- notebook paper; stationery; pens; pencils; stickers (who knows they may even play with these!!); envelopes, address book (filled out already of course); camera (with a note to send back onceit is full);

"Action Heroes"- Power bars; squirt guns; Red Bull drinks; small Army figurines; comic books; Gatorade; Red Bull drinks; etc

"To Be A Kid Again"- silly string; bubbles; small bouncy balls; hacky sacks; brain teaser toys (rubix cube, etc); deck of cards; dominoes; slinky, Frisbee's; Pez w/ dispenser; Nerf balls; sand box toys (pail, small shovel, etc);

"Bathroom in a Box"- TOILET PAPER!!! (the soft stuff); razor refills; foot powder; bars of soap; fresh, clean, soft washcloth; travel size shampoo/conditioner; toothpaste; toothbrush; etc

"Ruck Sack Snack Pack"- packed full of your loved one's favorite snacks ... possibilities endless. Doritos; M&M's; nuts; chips; dips; crackers; jelly beans; beef jerky; gum; etc. (but don't send any chocolate in the summer!)

"Breakfast on the GO"- mutrigrain bars; instant oatmeal cups; small boxes of cereal; pop tarts; Hostess donuts: Otis Spunk Meyer muffins; cocoa; coffee; Tang; cereal bars

"Tube O Tasties"- Just as something different, send a package in a tube instead of a square box. Make sure the parameters are acceptable though.

"Stress Reliever"- back scratcher; bubble wrap; yo-yo's; bubbles; squeezy tension ball; nerf stuff

"Sloppy Kisses"- send a bunch of Hershey's kisses. Bound to be "sloppy kisses!" (forget this in the summer... it's a mess!)

"I'm Nuts About You"- peanuts; cashews; pistachios; peanut butter cookies; any candy or cookies with nuts in them; Nutter Butter's; Peanut Lover's Chex mix; Fiddle Faddle with peanuts, CrackerJacks

"Rock On" or "Charlie ROCK"- pop rocks; music cd's

"Chili Today, Hot Tamale"- hot tamales (candy); small cans of chili; red pepper flakes (like the ones at pizza parlors); salsa sunflower seeds; Cajun flavor Pringles; Spicy chex mix; Boston red hots; peppered beef jerky; taco bell hot sauce packets; Extreme Doritos; chili powder; nacho cheese sauce in a can; Tums/Rolaids, Jalapeño Ritz;

"And this little piggy went to the sandbox"- (foot care kit)- foot powder; Dr, Scholl's boot inserts; foot lotion; foot file; fresh, clean socks; toe nail clippers; scrub brush; odor eater balls for shoes/boots; foot soaks (either include a small bucket or large Ziploc bags to soak feet it)

"How do you eat your OREOS??!!"- regular Oreos; peanut butter Oreos; double stuff Oreos; low fat Oreos; chocolate filled Oreos; chocolate covered Oreos; holiday Oreos

"Muchas Gracias. Nachos Supreme"- Doritos &/or Fritos &/or any corn tortilla chips; Mexican Velveeta; salsa (wrapped in bubble wrap); small can of olives (don't forget the can opener); bean dip; nacho cheese dip; small can of green chilies; jar of jalapeno's (wrapped in bubble wrap); taco seasoning; small paper plates or bowls (so they can make their nachos); taco sauce (especially easy are those condiment packets from Taco Bell); You could also send the sauces from the various Mexican dinner kits (they also have tortilla's in those dinner kits that are sealed so they would probably get there without molding or drying out); Taco Bell Nacho Supreme kit

"Sweet Tooth"- Nerds; Gummy Bears; Laffy Taffy; Bubble Gum; Tootsie Rolls; Lolli pops; (any candy that won't melt)

"Pamper Party" (for females)- Feminine hygiene products; shampoo/conditioner; hair barrettes and scrunchies (same color as their hair); facial scrub &/or soap; facial mask; lotion; shower gel; razors; facial moisturizer; tweezers; nail care kit; toner; special facial products (alpha hydroxy; eye cream; etc)

"Congrats on your promotion"- congratulation party favors; all your loved one's favorites snacks; sparkled cider (wrapped in bubble wrap of course); etc.

"For the Fisherman"- Goldfish crackers; tuna pouches; canned smoked salmon; cans of sardines; gummy worms; Go Fish card game; Field & Stream magazine; electronic fishing rod game; Sponge Bob Square Pants stuffed toy; fishing game toy (made by several different toy companies. Has a small fishing pole with a magnet on the end. Fish have magnets on their mouths)

"Say CHEEEESE!"- disposable cameras; cheese dip; Doritos; Cheetos; Cheesenips; Better Cheddars; Velveeta

"Kick Back & Relax"- Dominoes; playing cards; magazines; books; music cd's; crossword puzzles; jigsaw puzzles; word searches; hand held electronic games; squirt guns; water balloons; bubbles; hacky sacks; Nerf balls; board games (Axis & Allies, Clue, Trivial Pursuit, etc)

"Christmas in July"- wrap everything in Christmas wrapping paper; peppermint flavored hard candies

"Italian Stallion"- Italian cheese Ghardetto's; Pizza-licious Pringles; Pepperoni pizza Combo's; small Boboli pizza bread; pizza sauce (for dipping Boboli); canned Ravioli, spaghetti, lasagna, etc.

"American Classics"- Pez with dispensers; Cracker Jacks; Lifesavers; NeccoWafers; Pop Rocks; Nerds; Good & Plenty; Candy Necklaces; Candy cigarettes

And if you are sending things to Iraq and Afghanistan and you haven't discovered FLAT RATE BOXES... get them from the Post Office -- no matter how much you stuff in these boxes (about the size of a medium FedEx box) -- it's one price to mail! Don't pay for priority mail for things you send either, they don't get to NY any faster (which is where all APO mail goes to).

Updated 6/3/07


Friday, July 15, 2005

I'll Take That Call Any Time!

Our son called at 4:00 yesterday morning (to be fair, it was 2:00 in the afternoon by him -- and frankly, I'll take that call any time!) He's currently in Kuwait waiting to get transport back to Iraq... but because his weapon is secured at the last camp/airbase he traveled through in Iraq (many miles from his company's old position and many, many miles from their new camp), he has to travel back there to retrieve it (apparently, that's the rules.) So he has to wait in Kuwait until there's transport available to that original point of deportation and then has to wait at that camp/airbase a few more days to get transportation to his final destination. It's not like you can just catch a train -- [apparently] somebody's got to be going your way.
The "up" side of that (at least for me anyway) is that it might take him until after the weekend to get where he's going. I'm certain our son (who has the patience of a gnat usually -- wonder where he gets that from?) is not particularly happy about just hanging out with nothing to do... though he sounded pretty stoic about it. After I told him about my conversation with the Guys, he said he'd take a few cartons of cigs to them and try to round up some of the dire necessities before he headed back (I'm telling you the bond is great...)

He said his flights back were fine although he couldn't sleep and has been awake almost non-stop since he left the US on Tuesday. He's hoping that now that he's in Kuwait he'll be able to catch some rest in the next few days. He sounded good -- although I'm certain he misses his home and his friends. Couldn't tell if it was resignation to being back or just weariness in his voice... Certainly didn't hear any jubulation.

Seems that with 15 days of unlimited computer access, he still didn't get done some of the things he needed to do... So he asked me to call up his favorite soldier clothing place and get him some green (not tan) sew-on (not clip on) sets of his new rank and be sure to order extra sets in case some of the Guys need them... and a poncho liner in green... and what's his new address? (which unbelievably I already know by heart and even more amazingly could recite at 4:00 in the morning from a dead sleep! damn I'm good LOL!) and could I get online and order him a pair of desert jungle boots and charge them to his credit card? (I went to the internet site he told me and I'll have to wait for guidance as there are not less than six styles of principally the same boot... From experience I know that the wrong pair will destroy his feet -- if he'd even wear them at all...) I've always wanted to run my own personal shopping service... LOL. So far in this deployment, I have shopped for tactical shooting glasses, gun lubricant (none better than Militec-1 which provides and ships the world's best gun lubricant to soldiers in combat areas totally FREE), kevalr shooting gloves... But these are simple things that make me feel like I'm doing something...

And he did thank us for everything... and told us that he loves us (such a good son!) Not sure when we'll hear from him again, but it just can't be soon enough!

Update: So I have an IM this morning from one of "my Guys" and I let him know that our son is going first to retrieve his weapon and then will make his way back... He says, "um, Mom, we have his weapon here." So I say, "Wonder why they don't know that in Kuwait?" Seems because my son had gone on R&R before his company relocated their AO, he is unaware that the weapons people collected his weapon and brought it along when they moved... sigh. Hope someone tells him or he calls again...

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

All the Comforts of Home?

Lest anyone get complacent and think that all our soldiers live in comfort in Iraq, I had a message from one of "my Guys" early this morning (evening his time). His first inquiry was whether our son had started back after his leave. When I said that he had, there was a "Dang" (well, not exactly).
Upon further inquiry, he was acting as emissary for the rest of the guys and they had wanted him to bring back some bare essentials to the new camp. It turns out that the new camp -- in addition to being uncomfortably overcrowded because it's being occupied by both the outgoing and their incoming units -- lacks all of the basic "comforts" to which they had become accustomed at their old FOB. This camp has no kitchen (i.e., no hot meals), no real shower facilities (just free standing cubbies to rinse off with either bottled water or cold water when it's available), no laundry facility or service and, more importantly, no PX.
As a result, V. explained that they were eating MREs and doing laundry in buckets -- but without detergent because they have none. In addition, they had run out or were near exhaustion of their supplies of toilet paper, cigarettes (which was actually the first thing they mentioned), and all personal hygiene items -- deodorant, soap, shampoo, foot powder (they all have foot rot from wearing boots almost 24 hours a day in 120 degree weather), body powder (same malady -- other body parts), and razor blades (hey Gillette -- the guys all use Mach3 razors!!) We are very concerned and figure the situation must be pretty dire because in the six months they have been in Iraq, the Guys have never asked us to send them anything. Of course we have sent them all kinds of stuff, but whenever we have asked if they needed anything, the unanimous response has always been, "Nah. I'm good, Ma. Thanks." So I told them we'd get right on it.
So DH and I hit Costco and a few other places today and -- $400 later -- feel that we have enough supplies to keep at least our five Guys from going completely nuts (I know they will distribute to all their brothers -- we've had that conversation many times). In addition, I sent out an email to what we refer to as our son's "news network" (all his buds, family and our friends) and asked everyone to send a little something to the Guys -- and I hope these soldiers are bombarded with packages!
I heard from the parent of another of soldier at this base that they haven't had a water delivery (for bathing and cleaning) in a while and, while her son wasn't exactly sure why, the rumour was that the water buffalos (water tankers) had been diverted to serve some of the residents of Baghdad whose water had been cut a few weeks back by a TERRORIST bombing of a water main... (Have you heard yet today how we're the "bad guys"?) She also said that the camp is in a very violent Sunni area and most of the locals will not take jobs at Coalition bases (and those that would are too afraid of TERRORIST reprisals) which contributed to the lack of basic services... whatever.
We're military parents -- we know that this is a WAR and we know that it's not supposed to be nor will it ever be "comfortable" for the grunts (we'll leave the brass out of this discussion), but you'd think after two years and all the money we're paying contractors, that there would be something...
So next time you're standing in that comfortable shower with the hot water streaming over you or you're trying to decide what setting to use on the washing machine or trying to decide what's for dinner, remember our troops.
(And for those that would volunteer to send things, thank you so very much... but as regular readers of this blog know, I've kept all the identifying information out and won't post the unit or address here... but know I thank you sincerely.)
PS I found this blog today... a new one... You Must Be Kidding hope it stays interesting...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

God Speed You, Son

Dear Son,
Thank you for calling this morning from the airport. I'm sorry I got all teary-eyed (again!), but I know you understand that they are tears of love and concern for you, our precious son. God speed you as you return to the next phase of this life-altering journey you have undertaken -- one that takes you so far from the family, friends and home you so dearly love. Stay strong and happy (as happy as you can be in such circumstances.)
We will ask God every day and many times a day to keep you and your brothers and sisters safe as you work to complete this mission. I will pray, too, for enlightenment for those who would do you and others harm in God's name, by whatever name they call Him. We all know that it is their excuse to kill others and not the reason. We will pray, too, that the Iraqi people are given the strength and fortitude to fully join this fight and win against people possessed by such evil so that you may come home to us soon.
We know that you will call or email as soon as you are settled at your new camp, but it will not be soon enough. Call as often as you can so that we can tell you again how proud we are of you, how much we miss you and how much and how many love you! Watch the mail as there are already packages and letters making their way to you and your buds. You may be away from our persons, but you are always in our hearts.
Finally, drink lots of water, change your socks often, use bug repellant, watch out for the spiders (shudder), keep your kevlar on, eyes up and your butt down, zero up and aim true. We love you with all our hearts, son!!
All our love, Mom & Dad

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Happy Days

Sleep did not come easy. Even after all the primping around the house and baking and cooking, 5 o’clock in the morning (0’dark:30 as the Commander calls it) just didn’t want to get here. The 2-hour drive from home to the airport was filled with happy chatter at times, and then long periods of silence as we anticipated our son’s arrival. People congratulated us and asked us to thank our son as we made our way back from the airline check-in counter where we were given escort passes to meet our son at the gate. While there was a huge line at the security area, the TSA agents and those travelers waiting waved us through and also asked us to thank our son for them.
We waited on pins and needles for the plane to taxi to the gate, for the door to be opened and we peered anxiously down the long hallway to catch a glimpse of his face… THERE HE WAS! A cheer went up, and suddenly the last six months dropped away and I had my youngest son in my arms, in a bear hug, and the tears wouldn’t wait!! Six months of worry and anxiety and sleepless nights flowed into the muscles of my arms, the spread of my smile and the river of emotion that wrung out my eyes… His Dad wrapped us up and the aunt and uncle piled on as strangers clapped and smiles beamed all around!! The same heart wrenching emotion I had felt when I last held him filled me but in reverse. I may not have felt such overwhelming joy since I first held that tiny soul 20 years ago…
The drive home was filled with talk of whom he had seen in New York, what he had done, what he wanted to do during his visit with us. His best friend Mike had made the journey with him and we spent some of the drive pointing out cactus, damage from the wildfires… I spent some of the journey just listening to him talk and filling up that “child is present and safe” reservoir that all parents possess. It was the most at ease I have felt in many months.We spent the afternoon settling in all our guests, having a leisurely lunch and greeting our friends. After a lecture about how the SUV was not a HUMMVV and that he was not required to drive at breakneck speeds in an irregular pattern to avoid IEDs, the guys went out in the evening to meet up with some local girls that our son had met over his Christmas visit and with whom he had stayed in contact. After not having children in the house for a while now, it is always a little hard getting used to the increase in noise and energy that accompany visits – like going from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds!
We woke the "boys" for a lavish homemade breakfast on Independence Day and greeted friends before heading off to the rodeo. The soldiers from the local National Guard unit looked quizzically at us as we laughed when they asked if either of the younger guys were interested in taking a crack at a climbing wall erected inside the stadium and anyone interested in joining the service? After some good-natured ribbing, the old folks walked off to find our seats while the NG guys chatted with our son. While the rodeo did not acknowledge our son personally, they did offer a salute and a thank you to the active and veteran service members in the audience. As usual since our son deployed, my twin sis and I cried by the time we got to the end of the national anthem.
Over the next few days, they shopped for new sunglasses, got massages, visited gun stores trying to locate a particular brand of shooting glasses and shooting gloves to take back to Iraq, visited the spectacular red rocks of Sedona in the 105+ degree heat (while Mike was incredulous that it could be 30 degrees hotter in Iraq), spent a day jet skiing on Lake Havasu in the 120+ degree heat (his friend Mike remained totally overcome that not only could it be 20 degrees hotter anywhere on Earth but that soldiers had to be fully dressed in it!) In the evenings, the guys drank beer, rented pay-for-view movies on the big screen TV and stayed up into the wee hours being 20 year olds. We ate well, told lots stories and reminisced into the early hours of each day. Our son did not offer much information on his life in Iraq, but he honestly and willingly answered all our questions no matter how inane they may have been or seemed. No one here asked him whether he had shot or killed anyone. I don’t know if anyone else asked.
For the time he was here we laughed, talked, sang, laughed some more, took pictures... We talked, we planned, we asked questions. I spent a lot of time observing our son. His language was rougher, his voice much louder than before, and he had a quick temper but cooled off even quicker... I watched him a lot. I couldn't help but peer at him as he slept or to stand in the doorway just watching him watch television or talk on the phone or play with his dogs... I was soaking up every minute into memories I will always keep and treasure until he's home for good.
Early Thursday afternoon, after having once again picked through his clothing and belongings (which was no less emotional than the same exercise at his initial deployment), we began the journey to once again see him off. We stopped to visit his grandfather who had triple by-pass surgery since the grandson deployed. Although his grandfather asked the questions, our son’s well-screened descriptions of life on a FOB seemed to worry his grandfather and it’s unlikely that his efforts to reassure him met much success. He held his grandson for a very long time, looking frailer than ever… and he implored him to come home safe. After a wonderfully relaxed dinner, we waited patiently for the clock to tick off those last few minutes before they had to head down that hallway to the waiting plane. Of course, I cried. (I think our son is getting used to it.) Although he is back in New York for two days before he makes the long trip back, it was still very emotional for me. I urgently wanted him not to go…

I wasn't sure whether saying goodbye this time would be easier than the first time, but I discovered it was just as hard this time to unwrap myself from that last embrace and to not collapse when he said, “I sure love you momma. Don’t worry, I'll be OK.” It was all the more difficult because we learned that just as he departed Iraq, his unit relocated to an area of extreme activity and high casualties. Living conditions at the new place will apparently be pretty austere – even by the Army’s standards. He does not know what the communications capabilities are at the new camp (it doesn’t even rate a base name… just a camp), but he has already been informed that there are only limited kitchen facilities and most meals are MRE – and shower facilities are even more limited (back to bottled water showers!)… there is no PX or even regular access to one.

The only good news is that he has decided not to re-enlist (at least for this week) as he would like to start his college studies – already lamenting that his friends will be graduating just as he is getting started although he does take pride that he will have accomplished things his friends will never understand… Quite a few of our conversations over these past five days revolved around what he wanted to study, where he wanted to live… what his future holds. We told him we didn’t care what he wanted to do when he got back or where he wanted to do it – as long as it was in the good old US of A!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.